ALOR SETAR, Nov 22 — The payment of RM100 million a year is a reasonable compensation to the Kedah government to maintain its forest reserves as water catchment areas, said Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor.
He said the value took into account losses due to reduction of forest products as well as the cost of maintaining resources and streams to ensure forest and environmental sustainability.
“However, the Kedah government hopes the compensation will be in the form of fiscal compensation and not in the form of cost of tree-planting projects or the like,” he said in a statement here today.
Muhammad Sanusi was commenting on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s announcement in Bera, Pahang yesterday on providing compensation to states that maintain forest reserves as water catchment areas and protect them from illegal logging activities.
The Kedah mentri besar said the forested area in the state was 344,865.09 hectares which covered 36.4 per cent of Kedah’s area where it maintained forest reserves not only for the benefit of domestic use but also as a sacrifice for sustainability of the whole country.
“The function of the Kedah forest reserve catchment areas is also to irrigate padi cultivation areas not only in Kedah but also the neighbouring states of Penang and Perlis.
“Kedah also supplies 43 per cent of the national rice requirement which helps the federal government save on the cost of importing the staple from abroad,” he said.
Muhammad Sanusi said the Hulu Muda Forest Reserve catchment area of 163,000 hectares also supplied water to Penang which extracted 1,100 million litres of water a day from Sungai Muda compared to the people of the state themselves using 800 million litres a day.
“Eighty per cent of Penang’s daily water use is extracted from Sungai Muda. (But) Not only has the Penang government never paid (for it) but the letters sent to consult on the matter have also never been answered.
“When there are costs for maintenance and retention of water resources, including catchment areas as well as clearance costs due to loss of forest products, (however) the government and the people of Kedah were kept waiting a long time for compensation,” he said. — Bernama